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Harrington's Post

Subject: Re: buying performances

From: Jeff Harrington
Subject: Re: buying performances
References: <symphwk-2211981217400001@>
User-Agent: tin/pre-1.4-980818 ("Laura") (UNIX) (FreeBSD/2.2.7-STABLE (i386))
Date: 22 Nov 1998 20:12:33 GMT
Message-ID: <36587031$0$>
X-Trace: 911765553 12769 russell@

Harry M.B. Hurwitz wrote:
: David Horne -  as part of the recording orchestras available
: correspondence - commented that  
: Composers have always been able to buy performances- there's nothing new
: about it. Remember Mendelssohn? All that's new nowadays is that it seems
: to me these kinds of ventures manage to put such an opportunity within
: the reach of _more_ people- not the elite. The fact is the figures I've
: seen are not astromical. Some composers may very well feel that a
: recording of a hitherto unperformed orchestra work is worth more to them
: than a new computer system- I say more power to them!

Exactly, more power to them... yup... It's called throwing good money
after bad.  

It's like averaging down.  Your stock is tanking, what do you do?  You buy
more so that your break even point is lower.  That, in a situation where
the stock ain't going to go back up, is also called throwing good money at
bad and that is the situation here.  What is so sickening and
heart-breaking to me, is that not only do we have the barriers of creating
an original voice while working 9-7, not only do we have the barriers of
getting beyond the crappy music education we all had, not only do we have
the barriers of getting noticed in a world where if you're over 25 it's
hopeless... now we have to save tens of thousands of dollars and spend
them on "professional recordings."  People are going to rape their
little 401K to buy a hopeless dream!

This is the game!  The new game.  Which is, nobody gives a hoot about
contemporary music so if you want your piece performed, buy it.  Then, at
least, you can have a new dream... "If only I could buy enough
advertising, then Slatkin will remember my name and listen to that CD
that I spent $10,000 on and mailed him." 

With a professional recording, all the doors will open for you! 

With a professional recording, all things are possible!

With a professional recording, [insert X] will realize what a great
composer I am and (ahem) consider performing my piece.

Only problem is this... take a look at the MMC CD list.  There's a
hundred? (a bunch) of composers who have done exactly this and where are
they now?  OK, they've got a "professional recording" of their little
orchestra piece to play their family and friends.  But have they bought a

No.  They've thrown good money at bad.  Do you guys realize that
today's soloists are in the same boat?  In fact, today's soloists are
often asked to foot an entire performance cost of a single concert.

There is no hope that getting a professional recording will produce a
career.  In fact, I have no hope that if I were to go and buy 10
recordings and buy 100 1/8 page ads that I'd have a career or even a shot
at a career like those composers of previous generations?


1.  Nobody gives a shit about new classical music.  Period.
2.  There's literally tens of thousands of composers writing music that
nobody wants to hear.  By the end of the next decade there will be 10,000
professional recordings that Hurwitz, Inc. and MMC, Inc. have produced
sitting in the bins of Albany Distribution waiting for purchase.  
3.  There is a glut of unbelievable proportions of good new music that
nobody will ever hear.  

We've got a glut.  We've got competition of unbelievable proportions and
we've got market share shrinking daily.  And the funniest thing about this
is, with the new crown jewel of today's composition world not being the
Priz de Rome anymore... The new crown jewel is a professional recording
that anybody can purchase (if they have 10G to blow).  We'll have a
zillion little rich kids with a zillion vanity recordings and not a single
CD will make it to the shelves.  Shelf space is gone.  Don't even think
about it.  That's the war, now.  Shelf space.  

Oh, you think you'll sell your CD on the Web?  Yuh.  Getting noticed on
the Web is going to be the same story.  You'll be on Albany's virtual
shelf, alright, but you can be sure, that nobody will know how to find
you... because nobody that matters knows who you are.  

I've got a friend that has spent practically every cent of a small
inheritance (250k or so) on putting out vanity recordings.  Now, he's got
a garage full of CD's that nobody wants.  Sounds sooooooo.... good now!

: Indeed - the figures I supplied for renting an orchestra in a foreign
: country, Bulgaria, Czech or Slovak Republic, Hungary, Poland - to
: record an orchestral work are not astronomical although to an impecunious
: composer it may seem otherwise. Mendelssohn - and others - had family
: resources to cover the cost of musical soirees which included hriing an
: orchestral "band".  Furthermore, Mendelssohn conducted  performances
: himself.

This was in an age when people gave a shit about art music.  When art
music mattered.  When a single review or a single performance could make 
or break careers.  

Today?  Does anybody think that if they wrote the equivalent of this
generation's LvB 9 that anybody would notice?  Does anybody think that
even if they're lucky and a "professional recording" leads to them 
getting one performance of a piece it will lead to a second?  Not only do
we have a situation where only pure trendiness matters (read the recent
Ades threads in where the critic admits
infatuation, and more) but we have a situation where clear-headed critical
writing is virtually non-existent.  Gone.  Blotto...

So it doesn't matter how good the piece.  It doesn't matter if it's been
professionally recorded.  Nobody will hear it.  Nobody will notice it.
Nobody gives a shit, anyways...

Don't bother....

: However, I strongly advocate that composers engage professional conductors
: as well  as the orchestras to have their music recorded.   Here we are
: talking about  foreign orchestras which are not used to playing
: contemporary music working under a generally inexperienced conductor who
: does not speak their language or know their style of working. It is a poor
: recipe for success. 

Repeat above mantra until you're blue in the face you vulture over the
bones of broken dreams.

People, save your money and travel.  See the world... guys... get a life
away from America's dull shores.  See places where culture matters...

Whatever you do... do not spend your retirement money on this shit!!!!
You will need that someday.  Don't throw good money after bad.

Jeff Harrington [-->>[[ Mercurealities for Flute, Viola, Cello MPEG ]]<<--] [->>[[ ]]<<--] --------->>[[ My Music ]]<<--------------] ------->>[[ My Worlds ]]<<-------------]